Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Well...about that. I'd examine the numbers here but frankly I just don't care to. It's too painful right now to worry about those particulars. The officiating was... interesting. NC State still had a double-digit halftime lead that it should not have blown. NC State shouldn't have gotten rattled on the road against a team as young as Wake Forest. Mark Gottfried should have done a better job of stopping the game and getting things under control over the final 20 minutes.
There was plenty that was under NC State's control in this game, no matter what you want to say about the officiating. Calvin missed three of four free throws in the final 61 seconds, and Scott Wood clanked a wide-open three that would have given the Pack a two-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go. The Pack had a chance to make its own breaks and it did not do it.
The officiating was no excuse for being that terrible in the second half. State shot 14-34 from the field and hit just eight of 15 free throws. Lorenzo Brown disappeared at the offensive end, and the team had some really regrettable giveaways in important moments. Devin Thomas also had the game of his life. Good for him, and goddammit, that sucks, but such is college basketball.
T.J. Warren did a nice job off the bench, as did Jordan Vandenberg. Richard Howell was fantastic on the boards, and had Wood nailed that last three-point attempt, Howell would have been one of the heroes of this game. The rough second half by Brown, the rough overall game by Wood, some dumb fouls by Leslie to get him four early in the second half, plus the hilariously inconsistent officiating was enough to doom State in this one. If Brown doesn't struggle over the final 20 minutes, or if Calvin avoids that bad sequence early in the second half, then the Pack probably wins. So it goes.
Still, the guys rallied late to make it a close finish. I'm disappointed that they weren't able to turn the game their way in the final couple of minutes, but I also appreciate the fight. It wasn't an easy night for anybody, but they very nearly erased a 10-point deficit and picked up the victory. Didn't work out this time. So it goes.
I might be totally glossing over the officiating for the sake of my own sanity. It's a long season, after all.